Energy Blip Slows Houston Multifamily Market
Texas led the multifamily pack coming out of the down cycle, but it’s no longer the top dog and the Houston market is struggling, says Gables Residential CEO Sue Ansel (center, between Walsh Construction’s Daniel Walsh and AMLI CEO Gregory Mutz). Sue says the Gables properties in Houston haven’t lost residents because of the oil bust, but they’re definitely seeing less foot traffic. She’s still looking for opportunities in Houston, because there’s been about 40 to 50 deals dropped since January. The challenge, Sue says, is that it’s harder to get deals to pencil and returns are getting thinner. The advantage that Gables has is that it builds to own without having to deal with JV partners.
Greg (with the mic at a Bisnow Dallas multifamily event on Tuesday) tells us that Houston has been a strong market for AMLI with 3% year-over-year rent growth and 94% to 95% occupancy. It’s solid, but not great, he says. It’s probably in the bottom three of AMLI’s nine markets, but, he says, if this is as bad as it gets, “bring it on.” He’s not looking for new development sites in Houston, though. With job growth trailing off, he gets an idea of what could happen if other markets suffer job growth issues, he says. “Supply is what keeps us up at night,” he says. “If the demand drops out, it’s going to be a bloodbath for multifamily.”